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Monday, June 22, 2009

The Iranian Regime is Ripe to Fall

In its simplest philosophical explanation, the revolution in Iran is a battle of wills. Will the Mullahs impose their will on the protesters or will the protesters impose their will on the Mullahs? So far at least, the protesters are imposing their will on the Mullahs.

On Friday, Ayatollah Khamenei laid down a very clear marker. In no uncertain terms, he demanded that all demonstrations would end. On Saturday, thousands of demonstrators defied those orders and went to the streets. The longer the demonstrators take to the streets the more they will be imposing their will onto the Mullahs. Today, the Revolutionary Guard has laid down another marker.

Iran's most powerful security force threatened Monday to crush any further opposition protests over the disputed presidential election, warning demonstrators to prepare for a "revolutionary confrontation" if they take to the streets again. It was the sternest warning yet from the elite Revolutionary Guard.

The country's highest electoral authority, the Guardian Council, acknowledged voting irregularities in 50 electoral districts in the June 12 vote, the most serious official admission so far of problems in the election that the opposition has labeled a fraud. But the council insisted the problems do not affect the outcome of the vote. The electoral council said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won by a landslide.

if the demonstrators defy this warning, they will again be imposing their will on events. The regime rules by brute force and mostly by the fear that brings. Ultimately, the people far outnumber the regime. If they continue to defy the will of the authorities, soon enough they cease to be the authority.

There are several things to look for that will indicate that the regime is in trouble. First, there needs be dissension in the ranks. We've seen the beginnings of this when the clerics floated this idea.

Religious leaders are considering an alternative to the supreme leader structure after at least 13 people were killed in the latest unrest to shake Tehran and family members of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, were arrested amid calls by former President Mohammad Khatami for the release of all protesters.

We've also seen this with the public rebuke of the regime by former President Ali Rafsanjani.

Second, the security forces have to either stand down or at least not carry out their orders with vigor. We've only had anecdotal evidence of this. There's one famous story of a police officer saying that he also has a wife and family and pleading with protesters to leave a hospital because he didn't want to arrest them.

Third, the regime shows signs of desperation. We've seen a bit of this with the regime continuing to blame the U.S. with meddling. This is the sort of accusation that tyrants often make against outsiders when they see things slipping away. Hoping to capitalize on nationalistic feelings is often employed when other tactics don't work.

The regime understands that really brutal methods can backfire. That's because brutal methods shake the sensibilities of not only the rest of the world but often many within the power structure. If the demonstrators continue for at least another week and the demonstrators continue to defy the government's every increasing warnings then the regime maybe ripe to fall. The next week is critical, but if the demonstrators keep the pressure up, the regime is ripe to fall.

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